Compounds in tea could fight bioterrorism

A simple cup of tea could contain a significant weapon that would serve well in the fight against bioterrorism, according to recent research.

The popular English beverage demonstrated the ability to deactivate toxins and kill certain lethal microorganisms. A main component of black tea was found to neutralize ricin, an extremely toxic substance that was used in multiple attempted attacks of bioterrorism, Personal Liberty Digest reports.

Ricin is one of the waste byproducts from the extraction of oil from castor beans.

The research was conducted by Simon Richardson, a senior lecturer in biopharmaceutical sciences at the British University of Greenwich's School of Science, and his team.

"One cup of char (the British slang for tea) won't cure you if you have been poisoned, but compounds extracted from tea could, with further research, provide an antidote to poisoning following a terrorist attack," Richardson said, according to Personal Liberty Digest. "I've been working on neutralizing ricin poisoning for about six years as a by-product of my work in drug delivery...The next stage, as well as securing more funding, is seeing if other components of tea have a greater effect."

Ricin could be used as a terrorist agent to expose people to its deadly effects via food, air or water.

In 1978, Bulgarian journalist and activist Georgi Markov was killed by a man using an umbrella designed to inject a poison ricin pellet under Markov's skin.